2015: Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying Report

Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton all topped a practice session ahead of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Raikkonen led the way in Free Practice 1 ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel, while Mercedes concentrated on heavy fuel runs. Rosberg was fastest in Free Practice 2 while Hamilton was ahead in Free Practice 3. Going into qualifying it looks once again like Mercedes have the upper hand but Ferrari are not close behind. Behind them the midfield looks close – especially the gap between getting through to the pole position shoot-out.

Q1

Kimi Raikkonen was the first driver out on track for the start of qualifying, using the medium compound tyres. His first flying lap was compromised by a lock-up at turn one resulting in a 1:36.731. This was beaten by Valtteri Bottas with a 1:36.268 and then Nico Rosberg with a 1:35.657. Jenson Button compounded what has already been a difficult weekend by pulling off at the side of the track on his out-lap, revealing everything had shut down and there was a “loud bang”. His team-mate Fernando Alonso went straight out on the soft tyres and his first flying lap was good enough for ninth. Sebastian Vettel came out with just six minutes of the session remaining on the soft tyres. His first flying lap was a 1:34.919. At the end of the session, in the dropzone were Pastor Maldonado who encountered an engine problem in his Lotus, Daniil Kvyat, Will Stevens, Roberto Merhi and Button.

  1. Lewis Hamilton 1:33.928
  2. Valtteri Bottas 1:34.161
  3. Nico Rosberg 1:34.398
  4. Felipe Massa 1:34.488
  5. Kimi Raikkonen 1:34.568
  6. Daniel Ricciardo 1:34.691
  7. Sebastian Vettel 1:34.919
  8. Romain Grosjean 1:35.007
  9. Fernando Alonso 1:35.205
  10. Felipe Nasr 1:35.310
  11. Carlos Sainz 1:35.371
  12. Marcus Ericsson 1:35.438
  13. Sergio Perez 1:35.451
  14. Max Verstappen 1:35.611
  15. Nico Hulkenberg 1:35.653
  16. Pastor Maldonado 1:35.677
  17. Daniil Kvyat 1:35.800
  18. Will Stevens 1:38.713
  19. Roberto Merhi 1:39.722
  20. Jenson Button No Time Set

Q2

The Mercedes duo and Sergio Perez were the first drivers out for the start of Q2. Nico Rosberg’s initial time was a 1:33.878 which was quickly smashed by Lewis Hamilton who went 1.2 seconds faster. Rosberg was warned to save his tyres because they would be the tyres he would start the race on. Felipe Massa slotted into second between the two Mercedes while Ferrari went 2nd and 4th on their first runs, Kimi Raikkonen leading Sebastian Vettel. Fernando Alonso ventured out onto track with two and a half minutes remaining in McLaren’s first Q2 appearance of 2015. He set a lap-time of 1:35.039 going 12th, before being dropped down to 14th. Nico Hulkenberg crept into the top ten going ninth, and was nearly joined by team-mate Perez who was knocked down by Carlos Sainz.

  1. Lewis Hamilton 1:32.669
  2. Kimi Raikkonen 1:33.540
  3. Felipe Massa 1:33.551
  4. Sebastian Vettel 1:33.623
  5. Nico Rosberg 1:33.878
  6. Valtteri Bottas 1:33.897
  7. Romain Grosjean 1:34.123
  8. Daniel Ricciardo 1:34.403
  9. Nico Hulkenberg 1:34.613
  10. Carlos Sainz 1:34.641
  11. Sergio Perez 1:34.704
  12. Felipe Nasr 1:34.737
  13. Marcus Ericsson 1:35.034
  14. Fernando Alonso 1:35.039
  15. Max Verstappen 1:35.103

Q3

Going through to the pole position shoot-out were two Mercedes, two Williams, two Ferraris, a Lotus, a Red Bull, a Force India and a Toro Rosso. The Ferrari pair were first out on track and were soon joined by Daniel Ricciardo. Sebastian Vettel’s first effort was a 1:34.552 which was 0.013s better than Kimi Raikkonen’s time. Ricciardo’s first flying lap was a 1:33.850 while Nico Rosberg completed a 1:33.854. Lewis Hamilton took provisional pole with a 1:33.522 – three tenths faster than Ricciardo. Vettel improved his time by six tenths to take pole position with Valtteri Bottas going second. Raikkonen then took second before losing it to Rosberg. Ultimately it was Hamilton who secured pole position, going four tenths faster than his provisional pole time.

  1. Lewis Hamilton 1:32.571
  2. Sebastian Vettel 1:32.982
  3. Nico Rosberg 1:33.129
  4. Kimi Raikkonen 1:33.227
  5. Valtteri Bottas 1:33.381
  6. Felipe Massa 1:33.744
  7. Daniel Ricciardo 1:33.832
  8. Nico Hulkenberg 1:34.450
  9. Carlos Sainz 1:34.462
  10. Romain Grosjean 1:34.484

Lewis Hamilton leads the way in Bahrain FP3

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the third and final practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Ferrari set the early pace with FP1 pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen leading his team-mate my two tenths of a second on the medium compound tyres. Later on the in the session drivers put on the soft tyres and Nico Hulkenberg set the fastest lap – five tenths faster than Raikkonen’s effort. This was quickly beaten by Nico Rosberg – nearly a second and a half faster – with Felipe Massa slotting into second. The order continued to change with Lewis Hamilton topping the times and Sebastian Vettel was just six hundredths off his pace.

As had been the case in Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 a number of drivers struggled with lock-ups and running deep in the braking zones. Vettel complained that his DRS was not working when he first went out on track while Jenson Button bemoaned a lack of rear grip. A bit from the rear of Pastor Maldonado’s car fell off, leaving a bit of debris on the track, while Carlos Sainz struggled with power issues.

Daniil Kvyat’s session came to an apparent early end when he spun his car and ended up beached in the gravel after 30 minutes. His mechanics got the car ready to go again and he got out with a couple of minutes left to get a soft tyre run in. The incident was initially covered by a yellow flag but a red flag was brought out to allow marshals to recover the car. It was a brief five minute red flag period and cars wasted no time in getting out again for the restart. Fernando Alonso was one of the first drivers out having had extensive work carried out on his car to fix a broken sensor.

Free practice three times:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:34.599 – 13 laps
  2. Sebastian Vettel – 1:34.668 – 14 laps
  3. Nico Rosberg 1:34.968 – 16 laps
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:35.141 – 13 laps
  5. Valtteri Bottas – 1:35.393 – 18 laps
  6. Felipe Massa  – 1:35.471 – 15 laps
  7. Pastor Maldonado – 1:36.307 – 14 laps
  8. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:36.335 – 8 laps
  9. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:36.421 – 13 laps
  10. Felipe Nasr – 1:36.429 – 18 laps
  11. Jenson Button – 1:36.488 – 14 laps
  12. Daniil Kvyat – 1:36.548 – 7 laps
  13. Marcus Ericsson – 1:36.612 – 17 laps
  14. Max Verstappen – 1:36.684 – 11 laps
  15. Sergio Perez – 1:36.727 – 14 laps
  16. Fernando Alonso – 1:36.899 – 11 laps
  17. Carlos Sainz – 1:36.979 – 14 laps
  18. Romain Grosjean – 1:37.151 – 17 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:39.745 – 12 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:40.541 – 14 laps

FP2 in Bahrain sees Nico Rosberg top the times

Following a free practice session spent focusing on long runs and tyre evaluations, Mercedes returned to the top of the times in FP2.

Nico Rosberg lead the way just a tenth of a second faster than his team-mate. Earlier pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen ended the session third – continuing Ferrari’s impressive showing – four tenths down on Lewis Hamilton’s time. With a top 11 separated by under a second in FP1 the gap increased in FP2. The top eight were within a second while the gap to eleventh crept up to one and a half seconds.

Romain Grosjean returned to his car after Jolyon Palmer’s appearance in free practice one. The Frenchman – who scored his first points of the year in Malaysia – ended up 13th just behind the McLaren of Fernando Alonso. After grinding to a halt after just a few minutes in the first practice session, Jenson Button again came to stop early on. This time he managed three laps before stopping on the back straight. He did get out again later in the session, however, ending up 19th fastest and completing 15 laps.

A number of drivers struggled as the conditions turned from day to night. The lock-ups from earlier in the day continued while a number of drivers ran wide. In the closing stages of practice Sebastian Vettel picked up front wing damage as well as suffering from braking failure. He later apologised for hitting Sergio Perez which was what resulted from his brake failure. Raikkonen found himself in hot water, being investigated for not leaving the pit-lane correctly. He was reprimanded but no further action was taken.

Free practice two results:

  1. Nico Rosberg – 1:34.647 – 31 laps
  2. Lewis Hamilton – 1:34.762 – 33 laps
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:35.174 – 30 laps
  4. Sebastian Vettel – 1:35.277 – 26 laps
  5. Valtteri Bottas – 1:35.280 – 36 laps
  6. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:35.449 – 27 laps
  7. Pastor Maldonado – 1:35.474 – 34 laps
  8. Felipe Nasr – 1:35.793 – 27 laps
  9. Daniil Kvyat – 1:35.883 – 23 laps
  10. Felipe Massa – 1:35.884 – 35 laps
  11. Marcus Ericsson – 1:36.148 – 34 laps
  12. Fernando Alonso – 1:36.191 – 22 laps
  13. Romain Grosjean – 1:36.334 – 31 laps
  14. Carlos Sainz – 1:36.471 – 32 laps
  15. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:36.805 – 30 laps
  16. Max Verstappen – 1:36.917 – 26 laps
  17. Sergio Perez – 1:37.062 – 33 laps
  18. Will Stevens – 1:39.131 – 21 laps
  19. Jenson Button – 1:39.209 – 15 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:40.592 – 26 laps

2015: Bahrain Grand Prix Preview

In the first back-to-back races of the year, the Formula One circus has moved on to Bahrain after the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend.

Following Ferrari’s time at the top of the podium in Malaysia it was business as usual for Mercedes in China as they recorded a 1-2 finish. There were post-race rumblings of another falling out between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg as the latter accused the race winner of holding up his progress by driving too slowly. Both made their feelings perfectly clear in post race interviews and things are set to heat up again in Bahrain, where Hamilton won last year. It was yet another Mercedes 1-2 with Force India’s Sergio Perez finishing 20 seconds behind them on the podium.

Whilst Mercedes once again dominated proceedings in China – both on and off the track – Ferrari were the team closest to them, finishing third and fourth. They were followed by the two Williams, Romain Grosjean scoring his and Lotus’ first points of the year, Felipe Nasr, Daniel Ricciardo and Marcus Ericsson. At the back of the field there were reasons to celebrate for both Manor and McLaren as both teams got two drivers to the finish. Jenson Button was handed a five second post-race penalty following a collision with Pastor Maldonado, meaning McLaren were classified 12th and 14th. Manor were classified 15th and 16th of 17th classified finishers, although Max Verstappen pulled off four laps before the end of the race.

Bahrain Stats

Circuit: Bahrain International Circuit
Number of Laps: 57
Circuit Length: 5.412km
Number of Corners: 15
Lap Record: 1:31.447 Pedro de la Rosa (2005)
Previous Bahrain winners still on the grid: 5
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (4 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium and Soft

Bahrain has been on the Formula One calendar since 2004. It has been held on ten occasions having been cancelled in 2011 due to political unrest. It hasn’t always been in the current format either. In 2010 the race flirted with a longer endurance circuit but it reverted to the Grand Prix circuit for 2012 onwards. The Bahrain Grand Prix became a twilight race in 2014 – starting in daylight and ending in darkness.

Due to the differences in conditions teams and drivers have a lot to take into consideration when setting up the cars. There will be a discrepancy between temperatures during the ‘day’ and ‘night’ parts of the race, resulting in changes in balance and grip levels. It is also a track which gives brakes a good workout as there are a number of slow-speed corners at the end of straights. Qualifying has proven to be of particular importance in Bahrain in the past with the race having never been won from further back than fourth on the grid. Ferrari challenged Mercedes in China during qualifying but ultimately the Silver Arrows came out on top. Rosberg narrowly missed out on pole position, taking the fight to his team-mate.

It is a race where Kimi Raikkonen has performed well in the past but never won. Most recently he finished on the podium for Lotus in 2012 and 2013. He is yet to get a podium in 2015 but has finished in fourth. He has encountered problems, including a loose wheel which forced him to retire from the Australian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel has been demonstrating what the Ferrari is capable – being the only driver to so far beat a Mercedes this year – so Raikkonen could be one to watch out for this weekend. For Grosjean – who has also finished on the Bahrain podium – it will be an opportunity to maintain the momentum from last weekend when he got his first points of the season. McLaren will be hoping to build on the progress they made by getting both cars to the finish and they are set to turn their engines up a bit more for this weekend ahead of further updates in Spain. Red Bull and Toro Rosso both had engine problems in China while Maldonado retired following rear brake failure and an accident with Button who collided with the Lotus driver.

2015: The Chinese Grand Prix in Numbers

Statistics from the Chinese Grand Prix weekend

Total number of laps completed (by driver)

Kimi Raikkonen 151
Max Verstappen 145
Marcus Ericsson 145
Nico Rosberg 140
Sebastian Vettel 138
Carlos Sainz 137
Valtteri Bottas 136
Lewis Hamilton 135
Felipe Nasr 135
Pastor Maldonado 131
Sergio Perez 128
Daniel Ricciardo 127
Jenson Button 125
Romain Grosjean 122
Roberto Merhi 118
Felipe Massa 112
Fernando Alonso 111
Will Stevens 101
Daniil Kvyat 76
Nico Hulkenberg 76
Jolyon Palmer 25

Total number of laps completed (by team)

Ferrari 289
Toro Rosso 282
Sauber 280
Lotus 278
Mercedes 275
Williams 248
McLaren 236
Manor 219
Force India 204
Red Bull 203

Total number of laps completed (by engine manufacturer)

Mercedes (4 teams) 1005
Ferrari (3 teams) 788
Renault (2 teams) 485
Honda (1 team) 236

Number of race laps: 56
Number of safety cars: 1
Number of race starters: 20
Number of times race lead changed hands (includes pole sitter): 4
Number of different race leaders (excludes pole sitter if lead changes off the line): 3
Number of classified drivers: 17
Number of retirements: 4
Number of drivers on lead lap at chequered flag: 9
Number of teams scoring points: 6
Most places gained: Fernando Alonso 6 (18th – 12th)
Number of visits to pit-lane: 39
…of which were pit-stops: 38
Stop/go penalties (added to pit-stop): 0
Drive through penalties: 0
Retirements in pit-lane: 1
Fastest lap: Lewis Hamilton 1:42.208

Business as usual for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton leads home 1-2 in China

Lewis Hamilton has won the Chinese Grand Prix leading home another Mercedes 1-2 on the way. The race ended behind the safety car following Max Verstappen’s retirement on the pit straight with just two laps remaining. Sebastian Vettel rounded off the podium positions meaning that it has been Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, and Vettel on all three podiums so far this year.

Hamilton took an aggressive approach to the start of the race, angling himself on his grid slot to ensure he stayed ahead of Rosberg. He maintained the lead off the line with Vettel remaining in third. Kimi Raikkonen leap frogged both Williams drivers at the start, slotting into fourth behind his team-mate. Daniel Ricciardo did not enjoy such a good start, bogging down as he moved off the line. He dropped down to 17th and ended up amongst the McLaren drivers. Ricciardo then encountered a Groundhog Day type situation as he fought with Marcus Ericsson for position later in the race. He passed the Sauber driver at least twice before quickly losing the position again. He eventually made it stick and went on to fight with Ericsson’s team-mate Felipe Nasr for position.  It was not the most positive of days for Red Bull or Toro Rosso with one driver from each team retiring. Both Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen had a smoky end to their races as both their engines let go. Verstappen’s retirement came not long from the end – bringing out the late safety car – meaning he was still classified. Carlos Sainz nearly ended up on the sidelines as well following a gearbox issue but he was able to get going again.

Another retirement from the race was Nico Hulkenberg who had a gearbox problem early on, causing him to pull off at the side of the track. Pastor Maldonado also retired following an exciting race for him. He locked up on entry to the pit-lane but was able to get going again, later going on to have a spin. He then got involved in a feisty battle with Jenson Button and the pair made contact at Turn 1, allowing Button’s team-mate Fernando Alonso to pass them both. The incident was Button’s fault and Maldonado eventually retired following his adventures. Rear brake failure was the reason for his retirement.

At the front of the pack Vettel attempted to get the undercut by pitting before both Mercedes but ultimately it did not work. Raikkonen was frustrated by backmarkers – complaining over team radio for his team to get the slower cars out of the way. It would have been a frustrating moment for Alonso who was lapped by his former team-mate. Eventually Hamilton won under the safety car with his advantage wiped out, just ahead of Rosberg, Vettel, Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. Valtteri Bottas, Romain Grosjean, Nasr, Ricciardo and Ericsson rounded out the points finishers. It was Lotus’ first points of the season and they were unlucky to miss out on Maldonado also picking up points following his retirement. McLaren got both cars to the end but Button faces a post race investigation for his collision with Maldonado. Sergio Perez finished just outside the points in 11th, being the only driver to use a three stop strategy. Both Manor cars also made the chequered flag although Roberto Merhi found himself under investigation after the race after failing to stay within the Safety Car delta time.

There was drama post race when the Mercedes duo failed to agree over an incident in the race. Rosberg had complained about Hamilton going too slowly and backing him into Vettel. Hamilton’s reply in the post race press conference was that it was not his responsibility to look after Rosberg’s race. The Mercedes animosity is no doubt set to rumble on as the pair go head to head once again for the title with Hamilton clearly having the upper hand at the early stage of the season.

There’s a quick turnaround following this weekend with teams and drivers travelling to Bahrain for the race next weekend.

Both Button and Merhi received five second penalties and two penalty points following investigations.

2015: Chinese Grand Prix – Qualifying Report

Lewis Hamilton went into qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix as the form man, topping all three practice sessions before hand. Last time out’s race winners Ferrari have once again been the Silver Arrows closest rivals. Hamilton lead team-mate Nico Rosberg in Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 3 while Kimi Raikkonen finished second in Free Practice 2.

Q1

Roberto Merhi was first out on track for the start of the session – closely followed by McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard broke down on his out-lap in the third and final Free Practice session so was no doubt keen to make up for lost time by getting out early and checking everything was in working order. They were soon joined on track by the Toro Rosso duo and both Ferraris. Merhi set the first flying lap – a 1:44.911 – which was quickly beaten by Raikkonen by four seconds. Hamilton soon went fastest of all, two tenths faster than Rosberg. Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Nasr, Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Raikkonen, Alonso, and Max Verstappen were the top ten after the first runs. The Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa went out with seven minutes left in the session for their first flying laps. Bottas was fastest of anyone with a 1:38.014, two tenths faster than Hamilton although on different tyre compounds. Mercedes were comfortable on the medium tyres while others went out on the soft. Massa slotted into third. Raikkonen then went fastest before being beaten by Vettel. There were a flurry of times at the end of the session which saw a number of drivers move up the order.

  1. Sebastian Vettel – 1:37.502
  2. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:37.790
  3. Valtteri Bottas – 1:38.014
  4. Romain Grosjean – 1:38.209
  5. Lewis Hamilton – 1:38.285
  6. Max Verstappen – 1:38.387
  7. Felipe Massa – 1:38.433
  8. Nico Rosberg – 1:38.496
  9. Felipe Nasr – 1:38.521
  10. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:38.534
  11. Pastor Maldonado – 1:38.563
  12. Carlos Sainz – 1:38.622
  13. Sergio Perez – 1:38.903
  14. Marcus Ericsson – 1:38.941
  15. Daniil Kvyat – 1:39.051
  16. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:39.216
  17. Jenson Button – 1:39.276
  18. Fernando Alonso – 1:39.280
  19. Will Stevens – 1:42.091
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:42.842 

Q2

The Sauber drivers were first out on track for the start of Q2. Valtteri Bottas’ first effort saw him go fastest of three drivers before being beaten by Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver once again complained about his seat getting too hot. Another driver suffering a reoccurring issue from practice was Daniil Kvyat who complained about having no power on the straights. In the drop zone with two minutes remaining were Felipe Massa, Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr, Kvyat, and Sergio Perez. Ericsson, Nasr, and Massa improved into the top ten pushing Pastor Maldonado, Max Verstappen, and Carlos Sainz out. That meant both Mercedes, both Ferraris, both Williams’, both Saubers, a Red Bull and a Lotus were going through to the all important pole position shoot-out.

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:36.423
  2. Nico Rosberg – 1:36.747
  3. Sebastian Vettel – 1:36.957
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:37.109
  5. Felipe Massa – 1:37.357
  6. Valtteri Bottas – 1:37.763
  7. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:37.939
  8. Felipe Nasr – 1:38.017
  9. Romain Grosjean – 1:38.063
  10. Marcus Ericsson – 1:38.127
  11. Pastor Maldonado – 1:38.134
  12. Daniil Kvyat – 1:38.209
  13. Max Verstappen – 1:38.393
  14. Carlos Sainz – 1:38.538
  15. Sergio Perez – 1:39.290

Q3

The first flying lap of Q3 came from Valtteri Bottas and it was a 1:37.903 but it was quickly smashed by Lewis Hamilton who went over two seconds faster. Nico Rosberg’s time was two tenths slower than his team-mate while Felipe Massa was three tenths further back. Both Ferrari drivers were out on a set of used softs for their first runs – Kimi Raikkonen went fifth with a 1:37.906 while Sebastian Vettel was fourth with a 1:37.776. The Sauber duo of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson waited in the pits before going out for one run. All ten drivers took to the track for the last two minutes with new sets of tyres on their cars. Rosberg was last out of the garage, just behind Vettel, meaning he would be the last driver over the line to set a lap-time. Raikkonen’s lap was a scrappy one with the Finn having to wrestle the car round the corners. He improved to third but had to wait for everyone else to complete their laps. Bottas improved to third on his final flying lap while Hamilton did not improve on his provisional pole time. Massa went ahead of his team-mate while Vettel slotted into third. Rosberg was not able to improve enough ending up just four hundredths of a second behind Hamilton.

  1. Lewis Hamilton 1:35.782
  2. Nico Rosberg 1:35.824
  3. Sebastian Vettel 1:36.687
  4. Felipe Massa 1:36.954
  5. Valtteri Bottas 1:37.143
  6. Kimi Raikkonen 1:37.232
  7. Daniel Ricciardo 1:37.540
  8. Romain Grosjean 1:37.905
  9. Felipe Nasr 1:38.067
  10. Marcus Ericsson 1:38.158